Zanzibar’s appeal is undeniable. Turquoise waters, ideal wind conditions for kitesurfing, a vibrant local culture, restaurants and hotels. Yet one of the most common narratives from those who live in Zanzibar is about “getting away”, travelling to a different place to find peace and solace. People working here often feel they have to leave the island to truly relax or practice self-care. An interesting paradox for one of the world's fastest growing holiday destinations, is it?
Some return to their home village on the mainland to be with family, others travel farther to their home countries. Some escape to Dubai or Mauritius for a holiday. But the global pandemic has changed that - even for Zanzibar, a place with relatively few travel restrictions. One local hotel owner who travelled last in December described her holiday to me as “beautiful and terrifying”, a poignant tribute to how comfort with travel has been shaken. So, how can you support your wellbeing at home in Zanzibar, even when you are the one working where others spend their holiday?
My advice in three steps:
Put some time, money, and energy into making your place a place you want to be. This statement from a local kitesurfing instructor was surprising at first, but indeed more than a place to hang your hat, your home should be a comfort zone where you can forget your worries.
Cultivate things in your place that distract you from work. During Corona your home had become a place of comfort; start building joyful distractions into your daily routine. One 47-year old teacher living in Dar es Salaam deepened her cooking skills, and joined a painting class. Distraction is not going to find you, you need to go and find it.
Focus your interests! Yoga, walking, a book reading club, evening swims or meditation...wherever your path to fitness and mindful hobbies leads you, it is a road worth taking. Sometimes your interests and hobbies just need a sharper focus. I diversified my play therapy to include child yoga, a decision that has benefitted my own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those with whom I work. If the saying is right that “we have made it to the life raft, but dry land is far away”, our well-being might very well depend on how well we can paddle.
Ryan Sullivan has a MA in counselling psychology and currently works as a primary school counsellor in Angola. He developed curricula for international schools in China, Tanzania and Angola. He and his family return to Zanzibar every year and are residents-to-be in THE SOUL project. firstname.lastname@example.org
“Distraction is not going to find you, you need to go and find it”